As professor Schaub notes, reorganizing the Defense Secretary's office would not solve the structural problem of a weak State Department. The civilian input, oversight and control that is needed is that of an officer of state answerable to the Secretary of State, not a regional deputy defense secretary, answerable to the Pentagon.
In the next few days, we will hear arguments that the new Al Qaeda video, showing two ex-detainees from Guantanamo have joined the cause in Yemen justifies keeping their fellows indefinitely. No civilized country will accept that argument. Although a few heroic figures--Mandela and Gandhi come to mind--have emerged from abusive incarceration to preach peace and reconciliation, rage is the more likely response. I daresay more than a few of the readers of this paper would harbor a grudge against any government that had treated them as these men have been treated. To keep their fellows indefinitely to forestall an attack that they haven't yet made or conceived would be to instituted Orwell's nightmare. To do so in the name of "freedom" would be obscene.
Any argument that the rockets protect Gaza runs afoul of the facts. The Israeli army comes when it wants, goes where it wants and leaves in time for the American inauguration. Rockets from Gaza can kill and they can bring reprisals, but they protect no one.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 8:33 AM Subject: re: Departing U.S. Ambassador Warns Against Quick Withdrawal From Iraq To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
Even as he publicly endorsed a withdrawal from Iraq, president Bush continued to back Ryan Crocker and his plan for an indefinite U.S. presence there. For two years now we have been arming and empowering sectarian forces. These groups have no interest in ceding power to a peaceful central government. If we were to withdraw precipitately today, there would be bloody civil war. If we were to stay fifty years and the withdraw, there will be bloody civil war. What could justify the American deaths in that interim?
To the Editor: Mr. Qadaffi's proposal--like Marxism--is a system better suited to governing a society of angels than one of men. Jew and Muslim alike look forward to another world in which all nations will be one and borders will be unnecessary. In the world as we know it peace has come to the Balkans (e.g.) by allowing the separate communities their separate states, rather than caging them together. Even closer, we remember that the partition of Palestine has already created the legitimate and peaceful state of Jordan. When they were last polled, an substantial majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (and a larger majority of Israelis) were ready to sign on to a two-state solution like that sketched in the Ayalon/Nusseibeh plan. The problem is less the shape of the solution than the path to get there. The mirage of a peaceful one-state solution is one more barrier to real progress. Barry Levine
To the Editor: Skipping all the heroes in the Shakespearean canon, president George W. Bush now seems to have modelled himself on a minor character, the thane of Cawdor of whom the bard said: "Nothing in his [political] life became him like the leaving it." If--like Cawdor--he had confessed his treasons, he would at least have left a clean stage on which president Obama will undertake a very difficult role. Barry Levine
To the Editor: Backers of proposition Eight in California now seek to invent new rights for themselves, while denying established rights to others. I seek in vain for any guarantee of anonymity attached to our right of free speech. Indeed, political speech is protected best when the speakers own their words, rather than hide in anonymity. Barry Levine
To the Editor: If the relevant question for military transport is "how soon", the answer is yesterday. Get a mule. Although draft and portage animals lack the wow factor to attract pricey contracts, they work. Put the money into human development rather than an unnecessary pipedream of the military-industrial complex. Barry Levine
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 8:55 AM Subject: re: Some Ask if Bailout Is Unconstitutional To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
While the question of delegating Congressional Powers--whether in war-making or in matters of the Purse--is real, the assertion from the FreedomWorks Foundation is factually wrong. This $700 billion bailout is not the biggest delegation Congress has attempted. That honor belongs to the Iraq invasion. Even if one ignores the other costs and tallies only the dollars, we have committed over $2 billion to that venture, and we're not done yet.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 9:04 AM Subject: re: A Somber Bush Says Farewell to the Nation To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
President George W. Bush has never been one to test his rhetoric against reality. On his lips, lies are weapons and even the truth isn't to be trusted. He admonishes us: "If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led". This from the man who disdained to lead an international effort to root out Al Qaeda when the Pakistanis, the Saudis, the Iranians and most of the world stood ready to join us. He preferred to claim the powers of a war-time president. Osama bin Laden has out-lasted him. His legacy is a diminution of civil rights in the U.S. a Pakistan teetering upon dissolution and a world less free.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 8:41 AM Subject: Court Affirms Wiretapping Without Warrants To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
It is unremarkable that the FISA court has affirmed its obedience to the latest statute from Congress. We look forward to seeing that statute revoked soon. What this ruling neither says nor implies is that warrantless wiretaps were legal in 2001, when the outgoing administration began putting them in place on American citizens. This is the question that awaits our new Attorney General. To demur to prosecute would establish as precedent that our Executive can violate the established law (and our constitutional guarantees) with impunity.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 9:31 AM Subject: Torture Acknowledgment Highlights Detainee Issue To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
Susan Crawford has identified a crime (torture) and a victim (Mohammed al-Qhatani) but somehow speaks of neither a perpetrator nor of a prosecution. If this is how military justice works in the United States, justice doesn't work in the United States.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 10:24 PM Subject: re: Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
President Obama will face many expectations when he takes office. As our leader, he must look to the future; as our chief executive, he must look to our past. Unlike Orwell's 1984, our laws concern crimes committed in the past. As chief executive, it will be his responsibility to see that those laws are enforced. If members of a past administration have put us in violation of our treaty obligations, enforcement is not discretionary. His oath of office binds him to defend and enforce the constitution, including article six; that in turn obliges him to prosecute torture and cruel or inhumane treatment.
To the Editor: The program for Israel's strikes in Gaza was written by Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah in 2006. While the rest of the world scolded Israel for over-reacting to the abduction of two soldiers, Sheik Nasrallah said If we had known how they would respond, we would not have taken the soldiers. Barry Levine
To the Editor: The assertion that the army "must remain an all-volunteer force"
should be challenged on two counts. First, the creation of a career military creates a warrior caste whose interests will often differ from those of the nation. Second, it permits the establishment of a governing caste who can take us to war secure in the knowledge that their sons and daughters won't bleed in it. Universal conscription into national service--it must include more than just military service--is a much better path to a just and cohesive nation.